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Children’s Theatre Adds the City’s Next Stage

The $48-million renovation of the Emery Theatre in Over-the-Rhine completes a return home for the organization.

by John Fox

The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati is staging a $48-million homecoming with its renovation of the Emery Theatre in Over-the-Rhine. The Junior League Players, launched in 1924, officially became Children’s Theatre in 1947 and performed for two decades at the Emery before moving shows to the Taft Theatre. CEO Kim Kern says the building project takes the organization “back home.”

The public fundraising campaign extends to May 1, with an overall goal of $48 million (including $10 million in historic and new market tax credits). The vast majority of the budget is for direct building costs, with $5 million set for programming and an endowment.

Renovation plans include new seats, an expanded lobby along Walnut Street, and state-of-the- art performance technology (rendering above) such as a video wall, interior projection mapping, and a 20-by-20-foot turntable lift for the stage.

Kern says the new space will allow Children’s Theatre to expand its existing show line-up, which has been limited to 40 dates per year at the Taft. “Then we’d like to add new programming targeted to specific age groups and present shows from other children-focused groups,” she says. “We’ll also rent the space for one-off shows and private gatherings.”

The renovation process kicks off April 29 with a block party in front of the Emery Theatre. If construction work starts in the fall as planned, says Kern, the new space will debut in Spring 2025.

The Emery Theatre as it currently looks before renovation. (Photograph by Devyn Glista)